Nice might be famous for its glittering Michelin-starred restaurants, but it's traditional Niçois cooking that reigns in the culinary capital of southern France. The best places for local dishes and Provençal tastes are the small bistros favoured by the locals. Many are run by chefs who trained with the greats before going solo. You'll find some real treasures among the usual tourist traps and pizza joints in Vieux Nice (Old Nice) and the port.
01 of 09
There are two parts to Les Viviers,owned and run by top chef, Jacques Rolancy. The better known restaurant is a serious destination but many people prefer the smaller 1900s-style bistro. The decor might be a bit of a cliche but the Art Deco style, stone walls, blackboard menus, crisp white linen and fresh flowers on the tables really works. This is the place for classic, high-end dishes like scallop carpaccio with truffles, and devilled veal kidneys. Well worth the expense are their specialties of flappingly fresh fish and seafood. Set menus keep prices reasonable; the all-French wine list is serious and if you're not careful, can damage your wallet.
Address: 22 rue Alphonse Karr, New Town
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 16 00 48
Open: Mon.-Fri. noon-2pm, 6pm-10pm, Sat. 6pm-10pm.
02 of 09
Le Bistrot du Port
On a summer's day book for a leisurely meal at the outdoor tables of the bright yellow Bistrot du Port. It's the perfect spot for people watching, particularly the mega rich bobbing up and down on their yachts in the old port opposite. The cosy interior, with its large panoramic mural of Nice, is a great spot in winter. Fish is the name of the game here; order a generous seafood platter or ask the chef Jose Orsini for a whole fish cooked in salt.
Address: 28 Quai Lunel, Old Port
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 03 55 21 70
Open: Mon., Thurs.-Sun. noon-2pm, 7pm-10pm, Tues. noon-2pm.
03 of 09
Unusual dishes chalked up daily on the blackboard bring locals flocking to this small, cramped and frankly uncomfortable bistro (you sit on stools with no backs). Tripe, polenta with cheese and andouillettes are cooked with panache by former Hotel Negresco chef, Dominique le Stanc. No credit cards, no telephone number, no booking. It's incredibly successful.
Address: 4 rue Raoul-Bosio, Vieux Nice
Open: Mon.-Fri. noon-2pm, 7pm-10pm.
04 of 09
The Côte Sud is the best bet if you're visiting the Matisse or Chagall Museums in Cimiez, the smart residential area in the hills high above Nice. The attraction of this peaceful neighborhood restaurant is the expert cooking of chef Jean-Luc Jaffres who bases his menu on what he buys at the market each day. Book in the light, airy restaurant or sit under the trees on the terrace outside for the freshest sea bream with tomatoes and onions, or a rack of lamb cooked simply with herbs.
Address: 2 rue du Professeur Sureau, Cimiez
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 01 36 40
Open: Mon.-Fri. noon-2pm, 7pm-10pm.
Closed in AugustContinue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
This traditional Nice restaurant is popular with locals, and has been ever since the Italian Acchiardo family opened in 1927 in the Old Town. The casual atmosphere makes for a relaxed meal, starting with their top fish soup and going onto classics like stuffed vegetables. Drink the wine that they store in the barrel for a truly authentic Nice experience. It's a great place for a fuel stop after shopping in the fragrant fruit and vegetables markets of old Nice.
Address: 38 rue Droite, Vieux Nice
Tel.: 00 33 4 93 85 51 16
Open: Mon.-Fri. noon-2 pm, 7pm-10pm
06 of 09
La Table Alziari
Sit on the restaurant's outdoor terrace and order cod with potatoes, olives and tomatoes or lamb stew just like grandmother used to make. Revered by locals as an immovable institution in a dangerously changing world, La Table Alziari is run by the grandson of the olive oil family (you can buy their famous oils at the shop, 14 rue Saint Francois de Paule).
Address: 4 rue Francois-Zanin, Vieux Nice
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 80 34 03
Open: Tues.-Sun. noon-2pm, 7pm-10pm.
07 of 09
La Cantine de Lulu
North of the revitalized Place Massena among the seductive shopping streets of the new town, La Cantine offers an archetypal Nice experience. Zucchini flower fritters, aioli on the last Friday of the month, veal with olives, bouillabaisse to order. A loyal local following keeps this small bistro buzzing.
Address: 26 rue Alberti, Vieux Nice
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 62 15 33
Open: Mon.-Fri. noon-2pm, Tues.-Fri. 7pm-10pm.
08 of 09
Vin sur Vin
Once purely a wine bar, Vin sur Vin has been fabulously revamped as a brasserie/bistro with a 300-strong wine list to accompany hearty dishes like beef stew or just a simple plate of cheese. It's in the pedestrianized area of the new town, ideal for a break from shopping.
Address: 18 bis rue Biscarra, New Town
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 92 93 20
Open: Mon.-Sat. noon-2pm, 7-10 pm.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Le Bistrot d'Antoine
Inventive cooking at bistro prices wows the locals here. After stints with top chefs like Joel Robuchon and the celebrated local and international star, Jacques Maximin, Armand Crespo wanted his own place. So a few years ago, he and his wife Sylvie took over this old-established bistro. In winter, go for the cosy upstairs dining room; in summer eat on the sunny outdoor terrace with a mix of tourists, local regulars and the best recommendation of all,,,from off-duty chefs. Prices are reasonable; dishes like mullet are adventurous; the wine list is fair and there's an impressive list of rums to round off the meal.
Address: 27 rue de la Prefecture, Vieux Nice
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 93 85 29 57
Open: Daily, noon-2 pm, 8pm-10pm.